Career and technical education (CTE) plays a critical role in strengthening the college and career readiness of our students and the economic future of our state.
At 27 centers across Maine, CTE educators are engaging and exciting our students with relevant, hands-on learning experiences. Through rigorous, standards-based programming that always has the student and their post-secondary goals at the center, these important teachers are helping students develop the academic and technical skills they’ll need for success in the 21st century. Like all Maine educators, they deserve our thanks for inspiring students and helping them to realize their potential.
In particular, I’d like to recognize Stanley Sluzenski and Suzanne M. Hall, two excellent educators who reflect the professionalism and commitment to students that is necessary and now commonplace in our CTE centers.
Last month, Mr. Sluzenski, a building trades instructor at St. Croix Regional Technical Center (SCRTC) in Calais, was named Maine’s newest Career and Technical Educator of the Year. Mr. S, as he is known throughout SCRTC, has taught building trades programs there since 1999.
His education and experience enable him to provide a top quality building construction program. His background includes work in cabinetmaking, carpentry, and architectural millwork and he has built several complete houses performing all phases of carpentry and installing the electrical, plumbing and heating systems. Mr. S has coupled that extensive real-world experience with a commitment to life-long learning that makes him a role model for his students. He started teaching with an Associate Degree in Building Construction and has since completed his Bachelor of Science in Education and continues to work on a graduate degree.
Under his leadership, the building trades program stays current with the latest curriculum. He has taught the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core Curriculum and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Residential Construction Academy for Carpentry. Because of his own instructor certifications from both the NCCER and NAHB, his students can earn a nationally recognized certification.
SCRTC is adjacent to Washington County Community College (WCCC), allowing Mr. S and his students the unique opportunity to work collaboratively with the students and staff there. Mr. S takes his students to tour the college campus and experience some hands-on activities in their labs. WCCC plumbing, electrical and heating students work alongside building trades students on live construction projects, exposing the high school students to other trade areas and raising their aspirations to continue their education after high school.
The cooperative spirit of Mr. S has led to the construction of many significant projects for the local school system and the surrounding community. Most notable has been a 2,500 square foot building for the SCRTC Early Childhood Education program, which was built using no local tax dollars thanks to Mr. S acting as the local project manager and coordinating the work among his students, WCCC and other contractors. This facility not only preserved the early learning program, but allowed for the expansion of the welding and truck driving programs. Other community projects include work on the St. Croix #1 Firehouse Museum and Calais Recreation Department buildings, new buildings for the Calais Skate Park and Calais Pool, and renovations on the school superintendent’s offices.
Mr. S also supports students in their many extra-curricular activities, currently serving as a SkillsUSA advisor and coach of the Calais High School Academic Decathlon Team. He is often able to connect with students who are disaffected with school and on more than one occasion students have remarked that they only continue to come to school because of building trades. His caring and generous nature extends to his peers and school district where he is a teacher mentor, served on the committee to develop the Calais Teacher Evaluation System and is currently assisting with the evaluation pilot program.
Meanwhile Suzanne M. Hall, the curriculum assessment and instruction coordinator at Mid-Coast School of Technology/Region 8 based in Rockland, recently received the C. Thomas Olivo Outstanding Service Award from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI). NOCTI delivers a battery of assessment or standardized tests for students studying career and technical programs in high schools and technical colleges in the United States.
Mrs. Hall is the first educator from Maine to ever receive this prestigious national award, which was established in 1980 and is reserved for those individuals who have demonstrated leadership in CTE and occupational competency assessment. Criteria for the award include credibility, expertise, dedication, leadership qualities, knowledge of NOCTI programs and services, and participation and contributions to professional associations.
Now in her 20th year in education, Mrs. Hall also is an adjunct faculty member at Central Maine Community College.
Mr. S and Mrs. Hall are two exceptionally high-quality CTE educators but there are many others like them across the state. On behalf of Governor LePage and the entire Department, I thank them all for their important work inspiring Maine’s students and preparing them for success after graduation.
For more information about career and technical education in Maine, visit www.maine.gov/doe/cte.